Head coach Pat Lam has named his Connacht team for the GUINNESS PRO12 round 5 fixture away to the Ospreys on Saturday afternoon.
Galway-born full-back Tiernan O’Halloran will captain the side for the first time in his Connacht career. The 24-year-old from Clifden is awarded the honour as John Muldoon, having played 80 minutes in all four games so far this season, is named among the replacements.
There are five personnel changes to the starting line-up from last weekend’s bonus point win over Zebre last week.
Jack Carty has recovered from the injury that kept him out last time to take his place at out-half. There is a shift in the back-line as Craig Ronaldson moves out to inside centre and Bundee Aki wears the number 13 shirt, having played there in his Connacht debut in the same fixture last year.
Galway man Darragh Leader comes in for his first start of the season on the right wing, replacing Danie Poolman who pulled up with a minor hamstring injury during the week.
Up front, 21-year-old Academy hooker Shane Delahunt will make just his second senior start and packs down in a front row with the experienced Denis Buckley and Rodney Ah You. Aly Muldowney is also named for his first start of the season, joining Quinn Roux in the second row.
The selected back row sees Eoin McKeon (pictured below) shift to blindside flanker, making way for Eoghan Masterson at number 8. Top try scorer Nepia-Fox Matamua completes the youthful trio. From the bench, backs Ian Porter and Niyi Adeolokun are in line to make their first appearances this season.
Commenting on the team selection and the trip to Swansea, Pat Lam said: “We always said we would have to rely on our full squad in this busy block of games and we’ve made some changes this week as planned, especially with a few guys carrying niggles. There is a lot good competition for places in the squad and everyone is desperate to get on the team so I have no doubt the guys coming in will be keen to perform.
“Tiernan is named as captain and I’m delighted for him and his family. He is part of our leadership group and even at 24 years of age, he’s one of the senior players on and off the pitch.
“It’s always a big challenge for us going over to play the Ospreys. They have a big squad full of quality players who will be determined to continue their drive back up the table. For us, a win there is well overdue and we know that if we stick to our structures and play as a team for 80-plus minutes, we will have a good chance on Saturday.”
CONNACHT (v Ospreys): Tiernan O’Halloran (capt); Darragh Leader, Bundee Aki, Craig Ronaldson, Matt Healy; Jack Carty, Kieran Marmion; Denis Buckley, Shane Delahunt, Rodney Ah You, Quinn Roux, Aly Muldowney, Eoin McKeon, Nepia Fox-Matamua, Eoghan Masterson.
Replacements: Dave Heffernan, Conan O’Donnell, Finlay Bealham, Ultan Dillane, John Muldoon, Ian Porter, Rory Parata, Niyi Adeolokun.